Archives for posts with tag: politics

It’s possible.

According to data supplied to me today from Chris Cate, spokesperson for the Florida Secretary of State, between April 11, 2012 and June 14, 2012, 107 people have been removed from the state’s voter rolls on account of being a suspected noncitizen.  As an aside, that’s roughly 0.00095536% of the 11.2 million people currently registered to vote in the Sunshine State.

Of those removed from the voter rolls for being suspected noncitizens, 86 were excised between April 11 and June 8; an additional 21 people were purged the following week.

Residents living in Lee County accounted for more than 41% (44/107) of those purged from the voter rolls.  A recent story by Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald reported that Lee County (along with Collier County) apparently were “continuing with the program of purging potential noncitizens if they fail to respond to the counties’ requests to proof citizenship.”

What’s surprising, though, is the fact that the office of the Florida Secretary of State–in its flawed, and widely discredited effort to identify noncitizens–only provided the Lee County Supervisor of Elections, Sharon Harrington, the names of 13 potential noncitizens.  That’s 13 names of potential noncitizens from the state’s pared-down list of 2,625 names that the Division of Elections sent to the state’s 67 local elections officials back in May.

According to my analysis of the data, of the 44 registered voters in Lee County that the state has removed from the voter file, only two were on the state’s list of 13 potential noncitizens.

So, how did Lee County officials determine on their own that 42 other individuals on the voter rolls were supposedly noncitzens? Did they have access to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s elusive SAVE database?

Hardly.

According to Caputo, Lee County’s SOE Harrington evidently decided to purge voters from her list after “a local television station compared the voter files with the names of people who got out of jury service by saying they were noncitizens.”

Seriously?

While I certainly don’t condone fibbing to get out of jury duty, it’s troubling that Lee County is apparently using statements made by individuals to avoid jury duty to establish whether or not they are U.S. citizens.  It’s not uncommon for people to lie to avoid serving on a jury.  And those who are caught doing so, face severe penalties.

But should they also be disenfranchised?

The staff of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board earlier this week recommended to the Board that there were a sufficient number of valid signatures on the recall petitions submitted for Governor Walker and Lt. Governor Kleefisch to order a recall election.

Were there ever!

The staff’s reports are available on the Board’s website.

Here’s a helpful summary of the staff’s findings.

Officeholder Signatures Submitted Signatures Struck by Staff Duplicates Struck Valid Signatures
Gov. Walker 931,053 26,114 4,001 900,938
Lt. Gov. Kleefisch 842,854 29,601 4,263 808,990

I’ve been studying ballot initiatives for some time now (nearly 20 years), and I have to admit, I am stunned by the high validity rate for the recall elections. I’ve been involved as an expert in lawsuits, hired to defend and challenge the legitimacy of signatures gathered for initiative and popular referendum petitions which have a far lower rate. For example, in the state of Washington, as I document with Todd Donovan in our 2008 book chapter on the incidence of signature gathering fraud in ballot measure campaigns, an average of nearly 19% of signatures submitted on initiative and popular referendum petitions between 1990 and 2006 were ruled to be invalid, mostly due to names on petitions not being found in the voter file. And compared with other states, Washington has a fairly high validity rate for signatures submitted on petitions.

Perhaps we should expect the validity rates for signatures collected in recall elections should be higher than those collected in initiative and popular referendum campaigns, but I’m at a loss to explain why. The same tactics used by recall petitioners are used by those collecting the signatures in I&R campaigns. Some gatherers are volunteers, others are paid, sometimes incentives or bounties for valid signatures are offered the proponents. So why the outstanding validity rate?

Whatever the reason, we should expect that many of the 900,000 plus Cheeseheads who signed a petition and who are registered to vote (which is not a requirement to sign a valid recall petition in Wisconsin) will be likely to turn out to vote in the upcoming recall elections, even if many of them are not regular voters.

My just-published article with Janine Parry and Shane Henry, “The Impact of Petition Signing on Voter Turnout,” reveals that those who sign ballot initiative petitions, controlling for a host of other factors, are more likely to turn out to vote, especially in low-turnout but high salience elections, like the June 5 recall elections are likely to be.

My scholarly hat is off to the recall petitioners for their truly impressive feat, and I look forward to delving into the petition data in the coming months.

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